DVD Review HTF REVIEW: First Monday in October

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

    May 8, 2000
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    First Monday in October

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1981

    Rated: R

    Length: 98 Minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

    Audio: Dolby Digital Mono

    English subtitles

    Special Features: None

    SRP: $14.99 USD

    Release Date: July 6, 2004

    The stage play origins of First Monday in October are evident in this film by Ronald Neame, which features not great action or effects, nor great slapstick. Instead, it features strong, witty dialog between leads Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh.

    Matthau is Justice Dan Snow, a liberal voice on the Supreme Court - and he’s known as The Great Dissenter. After the death of another Justice, the President appoints a conservative woman to the bench, Justice Ruth Loomis. Loomis becomes the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. Oddly, around the time the film premiered, Ronald Reagan actually did appoint the first woman to the bench - Sandra Day O’Connor, whose ideals parallel those of Justice Loomis in the film.

    Matthau plays up the wry, liberal, opinionated character to great effect, and Clayburgh holds her own as his conservative foil. Barnard Hughes provides further comic relief as a crusty Chief Justice.

    The comedy here is understated and underplayed - which adds to the realism of the film. It’s a joy to watch Matthau and Clayburgh together. The witty dialog and fine comedic mannerisms keep you entertained throughout. This is classic Matthau.

    The “R” rating is most likely due to flashes of a pornographic film seen within the film, as the Justices screen The Naked Nymphomaniac as part of an obscenity case.

    The image is presented in anamorphically enhanced widescreen, in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The picture is sharp, with a good level of detail. Grain is very tight. Colors are true and well saturated.

    The contrast of the picture is very good, with whites that don’t blow out and strong black levels that preserve a good level of detail in the shadows.

    Occasional specks of dust are visible in the print, but they don’t call attention to themselves. This is a relatively pristine print for its age.

    I could see no evidence of compression artifacts in the film, though there are minor and infrequent instances of haloing, especially between building and sky. Viewing on a 32” or smaller screen, you’ll be hard pressed to notice, but those viewing on a large screen may notice two or three occasions of this.

    Really, there is little to quibble about, here. It’s a fine transfer.

    Sound is limited to a Dolby Digital Monaural track, in English, of course. There is no evidence of hiss in the audio. The sound is clean throughout, with good frequency response. This film is all about the dialog, and you won’t miss a word of it. All of the dialog is clear and intelligible throughout. Bass response is strong enough to be noticed in the music, much of which consists of marches. The soundtrack delivers nicely on one channel.

    Special Features
    There are no special features.

    Final Thoughts
    This is an enjoyable film, driven entirely by the performances of Matthau and Clayburgh - and the transfer won’t disappoint.
  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Mar 14, 2001
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    I'm just happy to finally have this film available. As long as it's uncut and OAR with passable pq, I'm a happy camper.

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